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The Philosophy of Progress and Perfection

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Item Code: IDJ833
Author: Paramahamsa Prajnanananda
Publisher: Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, Calcutta
Language: English
Edition: 1994
Pages: 332
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.4" X 5.2"
Weight 390 gm
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Book Description

About the Book

The book deals with different problems of Change and unfolds the mystery of the Changelessness. Change is the nature of the world. Nay, it constitutes the stuff of the world-appearance. Now the question is whether Change persists eternally with its manifold appearance and shifting and deceiving nature. The author discusses various problems of change in a logical and scientific way and comes to the conclusion that as Change has a beginning it must have an end. The prime aim and object of all the living organisms are to reach the ultimate end of their purposive and meaningful marching, and that end is the highest realization of the innermost self or Atman, which animates them and inspires them in their way of strivings.

About the Author

Swami Prajnanananda, President, Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, Calcutta and President, Ramakrishna Vedanta Ashramas, Darjeeling, Kurseong & Siliguri; born in 1907, at Prosadpur, Hooghly Dist. (West Bengal); monk of Ramakrishna Vedanta Math; Educated; Calcutta University; initiated in 'Sannyasa' by Swami Abhedananda, a direct disciple of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna; Awards; Sisir Memorial Prize for his book Historical Development of Indian Music (1960); D. Litt. by Rabindra Bharati University; Sarojini Gold Medal by Calcutta University, 1973; Fellow, Sangit Natak Academy, since 1963; publications; Bharatiya Sangeeter itihas; Raga-O-Rupa, bangla Dhrupadamala, Sangeete Rabindra Pratibhar Dan, Abhedananda Darshan, Tirtharenu, padabali-Kirtaner Itihas, Sangeet-O-Sanskriti (Vols.1 & 2), Natyasangeeter Rupayan, Mantra-Sadhana-O-Sangeet, Mahishasurmardinee Durga, Man-O-Manush, Vani-O-Vichar (Vols.I-VIII), History of Indian Music, Historical Study of Indian Music, Music of the Nations, Philosophy of Progress and Perfection, Schools of Indian Philosophical Thought, Philosophical Ideas of Swami Abhedananda, Christ the Saviour and Christ Myth, Thoughts on Yoga Upanishad and Gita, An Enquiry into Psychology Soul and Absolute, Historical Development of Indian Music, Sangita-sarasangraha, Music: Its Form Function and Value, Music of the South-Asian Peoples (Vol.I), Cultural Heritage of Indian Fine Arts. The Form and Function of Music in Ancient India (Vols. I & II), Edited: The Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda in 10 Volumes; The Works of Swami Abhedananda, Volumes one and two (abridged edition of the Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda).


The idea of progress, says Prof. Collingwood, was worked out for the first time by Targot (Discours Surl' histoire universelle; 1750) and Voltaire (Le Sie ele de Louis XIV, 1751) about the middle of the eighteenth century. It was then recognized as the fundamental category of historical thought. It was again developed in the Encyclopedic in 1751-56. During the next half-century this idea of progress was transposed into the terms of natural science. In another half-century it was again expounded by Erasmus (Zoonomia, 1794-98) and Lamarck (Philosophic Zoologique, 1809) applying it to the field of biology. It was then famous in the term of evolution.

It is commonly believed that Charles Darwin was the first to discover the doctrine of evolution in the West and he proved that 'the species of 'living organisms are not a fixed repertory of permanent types, but begin to exist and cease to exist in time'. But this is obviously untrue since Desiderius Erasmus had put forward his thesis long before Charles Darwin: 'The world was evolved, not created, and it was rather grown than came into being'. Not only this, but there was also current in the then society the belief or tendency: 'What had hitherto been regarded as unchanging, was itself, in reality, subject to change'.

Without entering into details it can be said that after Erasmus, Charles Darwin and Charles Lyell developed the theory of evolution with a more scientific argument from the standpoint of biology. But still there was a difference between the two in the method of their application. Because when the former dealt with the inorganic nature of evolution, the latter proceeded with the organic one. According to Charles Darwin, says Dr. Stein, every organism exhibits a moving equilibrium which is recognized as a combination of balanced set of functions. This balanced set of functions can be called a life, whereas the overthrow of this balanced set is known as a death? But still it is a fact that all the changes constituting progress or evolution 'tend ever towards a state of absolute equilibrium' or rest.'

After the theory put forward by Darwin, the Lamarckian evolutionary process expounds that each living being wants an 'extension of consciousness and of power'. Each one strives hard to evolve until its old organs, habits and consciousness are modified, and new ones are created. In this wav everyone runs unceasingly 'for fresh conquest of Life' through the evolutionary process though it is slow. The Lamarckian evolution, says Bernard Shaw, was formerly called Functional Adaptation and is now known as Creative Evolution. The physicists and the biologists maintain that down from the embryonic stage, from a protoplasm upto the highest stage of the superman, every individual has to weave an infinite series of upward progress and fresh conquests. Some of the evolutionists believe that the evolutionary process is purely a hereditary one and the human life is continuous and immortal. Weismann, the neo-Darwinist, also subscribes to this theory of progress. But his tendency is to rest in the finality of progress and he regards this finality as an r original substance'. He says that all forms of life have developed as protoplasms from an original primal substance, and this substance is the 'primitive slime' (Urschleim ) from which were shaped out all the materials of the universe.' It. can be said that the theory of progress or evolution that comes down from Democritus, Empedoc1es and Heraclitus has always been modified and reconstructed in the hands of the successive evolutionists like Darwin, Treviranus, Lamarck, Mendel, Galton, Roth, Weismann, Samuel Butler, Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and others. Darwin's accidental variations, survival of the fittest, struggle for existence, etc., and Mendel's and Weismann's theories of evolution were all worked out from the standpoint of biological or the germ-cell theory. From this time onward the evolutionary process really advanced through the field of biology and science. Biology considers all the organism as a flux or process of becoming which is essentially a historic being. Prof. Hobhouse says: 'The biologists have been generally content to follow Mr. Spencer in conceiving evolution as a process from the simple to the complex, or they have regarded it simply as a progressive adaptation of the organism to the environment'.

Science draws the same conclusion. The function of science is to reduce the complex phenomena to simpler terms. It looks upon the world as becoming or ever-changing, but at the same time it values the account of becoming or change as 'causal as well as modal'. It is in favour of progress, because it turns its eyes always towards the future prospect and discovers things novel and new that become visible upon the dead and rotten things of the past. But the biological concept of evolution being confined to the phenomena of life alone, 'the need of a more generalized formula was felt and found its response in the wider Cosmic Evolution of Spencer who showed that biological evolution was only one chapter in the whole story'.

  Preface 1-22
Chapter I
  Introduction 37-40
  Prof. Collingwood on the idea of progress - Progress in the term of evolution - Charles Darwin first discovered the doctrine of evolution-Charles Lyell on the doctrine of evolution- Dr. Stein on Darwin- The Lamarckian evolution - Dr. Stein on Darwin - The Lamarckian evolution-Dr. Stein on Darwin-The Lamarckian evolution-Dr. Stein on Darwin-The Lamarckian evolution-Dr. Stein on Darwin -The Lamarckian evolutionary process-Weismann, the neo-Darwinist-Mendel's theory on evolution-Prof. Hobhouse and Mr. Spencer-Science on the theory of evolution.  
Chapter II
  Becoming or Progress 41-93
  Hegel's theory of progress -Aristotle on progress-Prof. Benn's comment on the Greek philosophers Eleates - The Sankhya philosophy on progress-Empedocles and Anaxagoras-Spinoza and the progress-Hegel on the progress-Prof. Bosanquet on the progress theory-Prof. Laski's opinion regarding progress-Dr. Urquhart's comment on progress-Prof. Eddington's opinion on the progress-Prof. Eddiington's opinion on the progress theory-Prof. Taylor's discussion on progress-Kant and progress-Kali Marx and his theory of becoming - Mr. Beers statement on Marx's theory - Hegel's dialectic - The negation does not imply the mere annihilation-Marx and Engels-Marx as a socialist-J. Stalin on Marx and Engels-Marxs dialectical process-Herbert Spencer and progress-William James and Progress-F.H. Bradley and his theory of progress as process -Prof. Muirhead on Bradely -Bradley admits the degrees in Absolute -Bradley on history -Llyod Morgan and progress -The term 'evolution' according to Morgan-Prof. Laguna on emergent evolution-God and his activity as believed by Morgan -Bernard Shaw and progress-Weishmann's theory of immortality -Shaw's doctrine of evolution may be known as the creative evolution-S. Alexander and progress - Lloyd morgan and Alexander-Prof. Collingwood on Alexander's theory of progress-Prof. Rogers criticizes the view of Alexander- on the cosmic process-John Dewey on progress-T.H. Green on progress-W. K. Clifford on theory of change-What does the creative evolution signify-Prof. Russell on Bergson's creative evolution-Bergson's unity of life- The status of élan -The 'real duration' of Bergson -doctrine is a durational one - Whitehead on progress-The actually and God of Whitehead- Prof. Thompson and progress-Thompson's division of change-Prof. A.C. Strong on progress- Change and the Nature according to strong-Prof. L.T. Hobhouse on progress-Croce and Gentile -Prof. R.W. Sellars on progress-Prof. J.B.Pratt on progress-The four degrees as maintained by St. Teresa-The seven degrees of Banaventura-Oswald Spengler on progress-Spengler on progress-Spengler says that the old is replaced by the new-Sir Eddington on the theory of the repeated progress-State and History according to Spengler-Spengler as a materialist-Pitrim Sorokin on progress -Prof. B.K. Sarkar on Sorokin- What does revolution connote-The Spengler-Sorokin theory of progress as surveryed by Prof. B.K.Sarkar-Prof. Sarkar is a pronounced pragmatist-The doctrine of progress according to Prof. B.K. Sarkar-Prof. Sarkar is a pronounced pragmatist -The doctrine of progress according to Prof. B.K. Sarkar- Aldous Huxley on progress-Huxleys conditions of the highest type of evolution-Rabindranath Tagore on progress-Rabindra nath says that progress presupposes perfection -Swami Abhedananda on progress-Principal factors of the theory of progress-Vedanta accepts evolution-The aim of evolution is perfection-The theory of reincarnation-Platonic idea of transmigration-Vedantic theory of soul-Swami Abhedananda comments on the traditional view of the Uapnisad regarding the retrogression of the human soul-The idea of proges in Rig Veda-The theory of evolution is indebted to Kapila of India- Sir M.M. Williams on the progress theory-The grades of consciousness according to the psycho-analysts-The Vaisnava literatures on the grades of man's spiritual marching-Dr. S.K. De on the nine vyuhas-What do the vyuhas signify - Tantra and yoga philosophies on the levels of consciousness - The Buddhist phychology and the stages to Nirvana - The Buddhist psychology and the stages to Nirvana-The ten grades of Bodhisattva's sadhana-The four stages of the Hinayanists -Dr. Suzuki on the ten bhumis -The Ksanika Vijnana according to the nihilist Buddhists-Vedanta paribhasa on the successive consciousness of the Buddhists-The Naiyayikas and the Mimansakas object to the momentary consciousness - The Vedanta on the consciousness continuum- Sunyavada as viewed by Sankara - The four levels of consciousness in the Panchikarna-vartika-Maha Upanisad and Yogavasistha Ramayana about the grades of consciousness.  
  Progress and History 94-102
  Problem of progress-The religious literature of India-The appearance of Jesus Christ- The advent of Gautama Buddha - The history of cosmic order-The study and correct estimate of the cosmical situation-Whether the World has progressed or gradually deteriorated-History is nothing other than the record of an interminable war of man-Hegel's explanation of the historical role of a hero -Thoughtful words of Haldane.  
  Philosophy of Progress 103-165
  Introductory -Inge's idea of progress-The origin and nature of the problem- Meaning of Progress-The Indian dialectic -Continuous advancement as a synonym of progress -The idea of improvement as a synonym of progress-The idea of improvement is dependent on the notion of standard -Tests of Progress- Conditions of progress-Modes of progress.  
  Chapter V  
  A Debate on Progress 166-173
Chapter VI
  Progress as the Concept of Change 174-190
  Progress connotes the idea of motion -Swami Abhedananda on the concept of progress-The function of the Nature-Sir B.N. Seal on the progress theory-Progress can be divided into two heads-Sadrisa and visadrisa parinamas-Heraclitus and Plato Joad on the progress theory- Swami Abhedananda on the gradual progress of man- What do we mean by 'evolution'-Dr. Radhakrishnan on the progress theory-What do we mean by the words satisfaction and perfection-Dr. Radhakrishnan says that all progress is due to rebels-God realizationis the finality of the progress-Change is the world-Spengler's thesis on the change-Dr. Radhakrishnan on the ceaseless change-Prof. Collingwood on actuality and potentiality-Huxley on evolutionary process- The idea of change- B. M. Barua on the progress theory - The conditions of progress can be divided into five heads - Four kinds of modes of progress - The significance of the word progress - The psychology of progress - The philosophy of progress.  
Chapter VII
  Progress and Perfection 191-201
  Prof. Bradly on the implication of progress - Taylor on Bradley's comment- Prof. Aliotta accepts the thesis of Bradley - Vedanta is also based on the doctrine of progress- Swami Abhedananda on the Vedantic progress - Sri Aurobindo on the theory of progress -Science emphasizes on the reign of law - Dr. Radhakrisnan questions on the perpetual traveling-S. Alexander on the Space-time matrix - Atman is a constant thing- What do we mean by perfection- The false knlwledge or maya-Sat asat and sadasat- Divine recognition is the perfection- Dr. Radhakrishnan on progress and perfection -Progress is inevitable -Perfection assures a man of his Divinity.  
Chapter VIII
  Knowledge and the Absolute 202-242
  The function of the knowledge- Prof. Alexander on knowledge-Prof. Lossky on the act of knowledge-Kant on time and space-Time and space according to Vedanta -Dr. Seal on the time theory- The law of demand and supply-Swami Abhedananda on the subconscious plane- Dr. Jung on the unconsciousness-Prof. Pratt on the conception of the subconscious- Prof. Pratt on the conception of the subconscious on the mental plane- Western philosophers on the subconscious plane-Western philosophers on the subconscious plane-What is the causal nescience- The Saradatilaka Tantra on ajnan- The Kasmere Saivism and the Kundalini- The Tantric estimation of the Kundalini - Freud on the Kamakala - Adler and jung on this psychic force - Dr. Hinkle and Stanley Hall on Freud's wrong estimation- The theory of psycho-analysis - Dr. Jung disagrees with Freud- Dr. Jung's interpretation on the sexual instinct - Dr. Selbile on the sex urge - McDougall criticizes the Freudian view-Dr. Brown and Jung on libido - Dr. Jung substantiates his view - Yoga psychology on the primal energy- The impressions constitute the stuff of the internal sense- Tantric Kundalini and the Freudian Id- Dr. Raju on the Id-Dr. Sircar's opinion regarding Kundalini and Id- The manifold expressions of the sense operation - Prof. Holt on introspection- Memory -Vasubandhu distinguishes memory from perception - The act of identification - Swami Abhedananda and Bergson on intuition- Two kinds of intuition-Intuition of Bergson is divided into four kinds - Concrete intuition - Analytical intuition-Synthetic intuition- Metaphysical intuition - Kant's intuition - Bradley's higher intuition - What do we mean by sensation - Prof. Joad and Prof. Jung on sensation and intuition- The fourfold functions of the mind-McDougall on 'pictorial thinking' - Three levels of imagination - Hoffding on memory and imagination - The nature of the phenomenal knowledge - The nature of the illusive knowledge - A right and valid knowledge- The Indian logician on recollection -The Vedantists on recollection - The false knowledge is contradicted - The numbers one and two are relative - Dr. Caird on the relative numbers one and two - An empirical knowledge is changing - Madhusudan Sarasvati on three kind of limitations - Dr. Sorely on the pure ego - The transcending fourth principle - Swami Vivekananda on the mind - Prof. Seal on the theory of change - The change and Heraclitus - Hume's changing sensation -The solution of the problem of change by Aristotle - Realists and idealists on the knowledge of perception - The Atman is the unique essence - James H. Stirling differentiates transcendent from transcendental - The Absolute is not the ground of the world - The Absolute is not the cause of the world appearance - We impose the qualities upon God - What does the word creation imply - What does the term knowledge signify- Empirical knowledge is confined to thought- Knowledge s always luminous - The object-self and the real self - The function of the vritti-jnana- The dispelling of the nescience means the revealing of the Absolute - Apparent and permanent existences - The vritti-chaitanay and the suddha-chaitanya- Dr. Satkari Mukherji on the alogical consciousness- Madhusudan Sarasvati says that avidya is revealed to saksi-chaitanya- The Vartika on the vritti- The nature of the reflex consciousness- We cannot go beyond consciousness- Dr. Haldar and Dr. Haldane on consciousness - Max Plank on the basic consciousness - Knowledge in its truest form - Swami Abhedananda on Godconsciousness.  
  Man and the Absolute 243-249
  Man is the epitome of the Absolute-Swami Abhedananda on Godconsciousness- God is omnipresent- Katha Upanishad on the prana - Prof. Underhill on God the Absolute -Mystic Eckhart on man and God -The cosmic and individual divisions of the Absolute-Prof. Windleband observes two phases of God - The Vedanta and the Brahman - Dionysius the areopagite on the Divine truth-the Absolute is within us- The Upanisad on the Absolute.  
Chapter X
Chapter XII
  Jnana and Vijnana 250-262
  Mukti according to Vedanta-Bhagavat-Gita on Jnana and Vijnana-Nagarjuna on cognition- Chandrakirti's comment on vijnana-Vasubandhu and Sthiramati on vijnana-Vasubandhu and alayavijnana-Asvaghosa and alayavijnana-Vijnaptimatratasiddhi on alayavijnana-Alaya itself is asraya and visaya-The Vedantic Atman and the Mahayanic one- Dr. J.N. Singh differentiates Vedantic Atman from Mahayanic one- Dr. Dasgupta on alayavijnana- Brahmasutra on vijnana-Jnana and vijnana as defined by Sankara-Gaudapada and vijnana-Vivaranaprameya-samgraha differentiates Brahmajnana from Brahmavijnana- The direct awareness of the Brahman - Sri Ramakrishna on jnana and vijnana-Ramananda Sarasvati on the experience of the Brahman-Sankara and Bharatitirtha-Vidyaranya on the disappearance of the nescience and the revelation of the Brahmanjnana-Brahman consciousness is not the unconsciousness -Jivanmukta's state -Prof. Underhill on the liberated state of man.  
Chapter XI
  Experience and the Absolute 263-276
  Prof. Hicks on the Absolute and God - The Vedantic Absolute -Bradley's transcendental experience- Bergson's Freedom- Bergson and Vedanta- Prof. Joad on Schopenhauer and Bergson - Prof. Bax on the supreme experience -Brahman according to Vedanta -The Absolute can be experienced and felt -Is intellectual appreciation of the Absolute possible - Kant's Thing-in-Itself and experience -Bergson differentiates intellect from intuition -Plato divides intellect into two -Reason is a mental faculty-Bergson on reason-Reason according to Hegel-Prof. Hocking on the rational knowledge-Plotinus letter to his friend Flaccus -Thought awaits a mediacy- spengler on the intuitional knowledge- Dr. Caird on the 'Infinite' and the 'Absolute'-Prof. Hicks on the deficiency of intellect - Spinozas intellectual appreciation is different from Vedantic God intuition- Sri Ramakrisna on the limit of Sakti-Swami Abhedananda on realization -Swami Vivekananda on the limit of reason - Dr. Radhakrishna on the nature of the Absolute -The status of the transcendental Brahman cannot be explained -Dr. Brahma on the revelation of the tattvajnana -The jnanin leaves nothing behind him.  
Chapter XII
  Vedantic Conception of Perfection 277-293
  The Vedantic term perfection- Dr. Brahma on mukti -Moksa of Yoga is different from that of Vedanta-The state of vedantic mukti-The difference between the Yogic mukti and the Vedantic one - The practice of Yoga differs from that of Jnana -Narayendra Sarasvati and Suresvara on the Vedantic sadhana-Swami Abedananda and Sri Aurobindo on the Yogic suppression of the mind - Perfection according to the Yogacharas and the non-dualistic Vedantists - Prof. Wright on the Vedantic experience- Asvaghosa and Lankavata-sutra on the personality -Swami Abhedananda on sunyata - Nagarjuna on the status of Nirvana - Prof. Sogen explains the significance of the word nirvana-madhyamika-karika on the conception of samsara-Herbert Spencer on Negation -The Vedantic view of mukti -Sankhya system and Vaisnava literature on the conception of mukti- Dr. Radhakrisnan on the state of ecstasy -Vedantic perfection -The Naiyayikas on the experience - Vedanta on the knowledge of the Atman- Prof. Pratt on perfection- The jivanmukta.  
  The Spiritual Practice and Perfection 294-302
  The spiritual sadhana involves the continual strivings -Prof. Galloway and Hegel on the spiritual freedom -Prof. E. L. Schaub on the feeling of perfection -Dr. Radhakrisnan on the nature of the world -Mukti or the self-recognition-Different spiritual practices - Sri Ramakrisna on Mahamaya-Swami Abhedananda on the dogmas -Huxley on the religious dogmas - We should not depend on chance or Providence -The spark of the Divinity -Sri Ramakrisna on grace- Bhakti and Jnana -Meditation is necessary- We should do every work in the sense of love-Swami Abhedananda on love and sense of duty -The nature of perfection.  
  God the Highest Reality of Spinoza 303-312
  Substance of Spinoza-Spinozas ontological proofs for the existence of God - Dr. Windleband on Spinozas Deity-Prof. Falckenberg on Spinozas body and soul - Dr. Schwegler and Dr. Haldar on Spinoza-Thought and extension of Spinoza-Prof. Taylor's objection on Spinozas formula-The intuition according to Spinoza-Spinozas intuition is different from Kant, Descartes and Leitbnitz-God of Spinoza-Dr. N.K. Brahma on Spinozas intuition- Prof. Hoffding on Gods nature-Prof. Russell on the intellectual love of Spinoza- Prof. S. Alexander on the intellectual love - Spinozas God differs from that of Descartes and Bruno-The pantheism of Spinoza and that of Vedanta -Dr. M. N. Sircar on the Absolute of Spinoza - The realization of the Absolute.  
  Bibliography 313-322
  Index 323-332

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